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Members overwhelmingly endorse proposed Forensicare mental health EBA offer

Members overwhelmingly endorse proposed Forensicare mental health EBA offer

Bargaining meetings

Forensicare mental health nurse members overwhelmingly endorsed an Andrews Government EBA offer at a virtual statewide meeting on 5 January 2022.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Assistant Secretary Maddy Harradence addressed the meeting and provided details of the offer. Mental Health Nursing Officer Jade Chandler was also in attendance. Members had an opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification in relation to the improved offer.

The proposed agreement includes a 10.5 per cent wage increase over four years, plus a one-off ‘nurse alignment’ payment that will achieve pay parity with public mental health nurses and general public sector nurses and midwives given the delay in bargaining.

The offer also includes a full-time equivalent (FTE) allocation for prison nurses during the life of the agreement in response to ANMF’s claim for additional prison nurses. This will be:

  • 15.84 FTE for RPN2 year 10
  • 1.44 FTE for PSEN Level 2 year 7

ANMF will work with other parties during the drafting period to finalise the additional FTE allocation.

Minimum staffing

Levels for bed-based services will be agreed and recorded within the first year of the agreement commencing operation.

The offer includes all the important wins from the public mental health nurses and general public sector nurses and midwives enterprise agreements negotiations – including superannuation on both paid and unpaid components of parental leave; parental leave counting as service for long service leave purposes; earlier access to long service leave; and improved access to the sixth week of annual leave for weekend workers.

A copy of the meeting’s presentation is available.

Read the resolution passed by mental health members.

ANMF believes the offer addresses all significant member claims, which will assist to attract and retain mental health nurses and build workforce capacity so the sector can implement the Andrews Government’s mental health reforms.

How did ANMF develop the log of claims?

The development of the members’ log of claims was based on reference to a combination of sources, including:

  • adopting achievements secured by ANMF in the general nurses and midwives agreement 2020–2024
  • previous ANMF claims – not achieved
  • member consultation, including motions discussed with members and brought to ANMF Annual Delegates Conferences by mental health Job Reps and Health and Safety Reps
  • workplace disputes
  • ANMF’s submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System – July 2019
  • the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System interim report – November 2019
  • incorporation of improvements from the Victorian Department of Health’s workforce strengthening project.

The final draft log of claims was endorsed by mental health Job Reps at the 2019 Annual Delegates Conference and endorsed by the ANMF (Vic Branch) Council.

It was subsequently tabled in a meeting with the Victorian Hospitals’ Industrial Association and the Department of Health in May 2020 at the commencement of bargaining.

Increased wages and allowances

This updated offer includes a 10.5 per cent wage increase over a four-year agreement, plus the one-off ‘nurse alignment’ payment.

The proposed wage increases are:

1 July 2021 – 3% (the effect of the alignment payment is as if this increase applied from 1 December 2020)
1 July 2022 – 3%
1 July 2023 – 3%
1 July 2024 – 1.5%

The proposed agreement would expire December 2024 to ensure it stays aligned as close as possible with the general public sector nurses and midwives agreement, which expires in April 2024.

See ANMF’s public sector mental health nurses’/ public sector general nurses’ and midwives’ wages comparison table.

‘Nurse alignment’ payment

This further offer includes a one off ‘nurse alignment’ payment – to be made at the start of the new agreement – equivalent to three per cent and dated back to 1 December 2020. This will have the same effect as a three per cent payment on your wages from 1 December 2020 to end of June 2021 and will be reflected in your leave entitlements and superannuation.

This payment will align mental health nurses’ wages with those ANMF achieved in the general public sector nurses and midwives eight-year wages deal (2016–2024). A percentage increase is superior to a flat lump sum amount given the additional benefit that it is not only applied to your rate of pay but also to your other entitlements such as allowances and leave loading etc.

Additional provisions – memorandum of understanding

The new offer also includes a legally binding agreement for the following:

In the first 12 months of the enterprise agreement, the parties and the Department of Health will undertake work to map the staffing profiles in bed-based services. These will be recorded as a minimum staffing level for these services, subject to change through local agreements with the unions. These minimum profiles and change arrangements will be recorded in a memorandum of understanding between the department, the Victorian Hospitals’ Industrial Association and both unions.

Additional improvements in the offer:

Loss of pregnancy under 20 weeks gestation will become a ‘permissible’ matter for the purpose of accessing compassionate leave for the primary and non-primary carer.

Gender affirmation leave – up to 20 days paid leave for essential and necessary gender affirmation procedures (see clause 58 of the Victorian Public Service Enterprise Agreement 2020). Up to 48 weeks unpaid leave.

The ‘Advanced Diploma in Mental Health’ to be recognised as a relevant qualification for enrolled nurses to access a four per cent qualification allowance (preservation of any employee receiving an amount above that level at the time the new agreement is made).

Clarification of the circumstances in which health professionals are entitled to a higher duties allowance with the higher duties arrangement to be recorded in writing.

What is next?

Once all parties have endorsed the offer, drafting of the agreement is due to be completed by 28 February 2022, followed by a ballot process. ANMF will update members at all stages of finalisation of the agreement.